Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the diamond’s first European owner, called it “un beau violet”—perhaps the only possible...



An amusing, if gaga, history of the world’s most prized blue stone, from a specialist in the biography of luxury.

Fowler (The Way She Looks Tonight, 1996) treats the story of the Hope Diamond as if it were a real bodice-ripper, describing the gem as “Nature’s absolute kernel of energy and beauty, of her striving, driving, pounding life-force.” And the stone delivers. Fowler’s heroine was born in southern India, with enough boron in its chemistry to give it a gorgeous violet-blue coloration. Fowler imagines the stone first as the third eye in a statue of Siva, a religious transporter, glorious and holy. But it began on the slippery slope to degradation and written history when a French trader and adventurer bought it and in, turn, sold it to King Louis XIV. Since there’s precious little to say about the stone beyond describing its settings and the ways it has been displayed, Fowler provides biographies of its owners, making them as racy as possible. From the French royal family the diamond passed, via a robbery during the Revolution, into the tawdry precincts of the Hopes, a wealthy English banking family—whose subsequent fall from financial grace bestowed upon the newly christened Hope Diamond the legend of the stone’s curse—and thence to the King of Diamonds, jeweler Harry Winston of New York, who gave the stone to the Smithsonian. Fowler manages to impart plenty of information about the diamond, but her weakness for the fabulous sweeps all before it. She may be the only writer who could make a geologic process sound like a Hamptons soirée, as a volcano unleashes the stone with “the fizz and roar of a million champagne corks.”

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, the diamond’s first European owner, called it “un beau violet”—perhaps the only possible description more purple than Fowler’s prose.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-345-44486-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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